Star’s rise to prominence ushers in new era

Steph Curry’s new fame is beneficial to development of basketball despite criticism, hate thrown upon his playing style

Big men dominated the game of basketball for a majority of its existence. A forceful, physical style of play was the norm during the mid to late 20th century. Now a new fad has taken the league by storm with one man leading the charge — Golden State point guard Stephen Curry.

With a combination of skill, finesse and efficiency, Curry is changing the way we watch and play basketball. This season alone he has broken his own record for three-point shots made in a season and tied the all-time record for three-point shots made in a game. He already has four of the 10 best three-point shooting seasons of all time. There has been a passing of the torch. People from around the globe are no longer yelling “Kobe” after making a difficult, clutch shot. Instead, local YMCA-ers are pulling up from 30 feet out yelling “Curry,” tapping their chests and pointing to the sky afterwards

Still there are observers, such as former Golden State head coach Mark Jackson, who believe Curry is a detriment to basketball.

“Steph Curry’s great,” Jackson commented on a broadcast earlier this season. “Steph Curry is the MVP. He’s a champion. Understand what I’m saying when I say this: To a degree, he’s hurt the game. And what I mean by that is that I go into these high school gyms, I watch these kids and the first thing they do is they run to the 3-point line. You are not Steph Curry. Work on the other aspects of your game. People think that he’s just a knockdown shooter. That’s not why he’s the MVP. He’s a complete basketball player.”

Putting Jackson’s alternative motives and conflicting interests aside, there is some truth behind his words.

Curry may not necessarily be hurting the game, but since we live in a fast-paced, highlight driven world, young athletes are mesmerized by what they see in the media.

However, they only see the end results and not the work that Curry has put in behind closed doors. Curry is the deadliest marksman in NBA history, but contrary to popular belief, it’s not because of how well he actually shoots from behind the arc — though his 44.3 career shooting percentage is up there with the best of them. Rather, it’s because of everything else he can do.

In every sense of the phrase, Curry is a complete basketball player. His ball handling skills are second to none. He has progressively improved his ability to finish in the paint. He can create his own shot and can make difficult, off-the-dribble jump shots look relatively easy.

Unfortunately, some NBA legends are not fond of Curry’s rise to stardom. One in particular is Hall of Fame point guard Oscar Robertson.

“(Curry) has shot well because of what’s going on in basketball today,” Robertson said. “In basketball today, it’s almost like if you can dunk or make a three-point shot, you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread … there have been some great shooters in the past … but here again, when I played … if you shot outside and hit it, the next time I’m going to be up on top of you. I’m going to pressure you with three-quarters, half-court defense. But now they don’t do that. These coaches do not understand the game of basketball, as far as I’m concerned.”

These comments, made earlier this year, stem from the very simple fact that Curry’s style of play is not a continuation of the highly touted ground and pound era of basketball that Robertson played in.

While modern basketball is not as physical as previous eras, there is no denying that skill and athleticism now is at an all-time high.

Curry doesn’t fit the old mold, so instead it’s easier to criticize modern basketball for his rise to stardom than face the reality that a 6 foot, 2 inch, 190 pound man is revolutionizing an entire sport.

The problem there is because we’re witnessing something unprecedented, it doesn’t mean previous eras will be ignored and fade into the shadows.

Rather, it speaks to the uniqueness of the sport and that, just as humans evolve, so does the game of basketball.We should sit back and enjoy what Curry is doing and what is to come because we may never see anything like it again during our lifetime.

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